Fast forward to now. CDProjekt has released The Witcher: Enhanced Edition. "Oooooh," says I. I didn't even know this was coming out until I received my review copy. "Enhanced," says I, "what does this mean?" (I really talk like that sometimes. My mother should have aborted me, I swear.) The outside of the box claims the following:
- A disk including 44 music tracks
- A "making of" DVD
- The official game guide.
- A short story by the dude that write the comics or something.
- Zzzzzzzz. Zzzzzzzzz.
What the fuck? Man, this box sucks. Where's the 'enhanced' stuff? Ooooooh here we go. Inside the little game flap. I throw the game case over my shoulder and start reading the inner flap of the game box itself. Aha! Here we go, now we're talkin'!
- Two new adventures! Aww yea, I always thought the game needed a couple more solid quests.
- Polished translation and voice work. Not bad. Not bad.
- Greater variety of non-player characters.
- Streamlined inventory? Suh-weet.
- Auto-looting. Meh. Whatever.
- Level loading times reduced by up to 80%. No fucking way! Are they serious? One of the worst aspects of the original Witcher... fixed? This I gotta see. Those load times made it PAINFUL to run in and out of unimportant homes just to loot their cabinets and shit. Y'know, right in front of the owners. Hrm. And usually all I got was some flint stones and muffins. And extraordinary amount of muffins. maybe that was just my game.
- Improved game stability? Nice, really nice. I can't tell you how many times the original Witcher screwed with me. I thought it was out to get me or had a mafia hit against me, hoping to fulfill it by making me KILL MYSELF. Yea, the game stability issues needed to be fixed. Fucking crashes.
- Improved facial expressions and body animations? No more wooden Anakin Skywalker style acting? Shit, if this was all they fixed in the enhanced edition I probably would have still bought it just on this alone.
- WHAT!?! Hold that thought. Improved combat responsiveness! YES! Shit, if this was all they fixed in the enhanced edition I probably would have still bought it just on this alone. For those of you who have never faced the pain of the original Witcher's combat, you have no idea. You have NO idea...
- Improved weather settings. Yea. Okay.
- Improved AI for the Dice Poker mini-game. Fuck! That was how I made all my loot. Abusing the stupid computer in Dice-Poker just to afford all the expensive shit in the game. Dammit! *sigh* Oh well, there goes that exploit.
- All the latest patches implemented. Well, that's handy.
- Accelerated map and inventory loading. This falls under the level loading times thingy. Like, I'm giddy that they fixed it. Or at least they say they did. We'll see when I start playing.
Alright, so let's install this thing and...
OH WAIT. I forgot to add that the game comes with the adventure editor D'Jinni. The mod crews will love that should it deliver.
Moving on. So I installed the game and played through quite a bit of it. Some of the claims they make on the box are buh-huh-ullshit. Others are spot on, while a few are kinda fixed, but not enough to warrant claiming they're fixed in the Enhanced Edition of The Witcher. And honestly, some changes rocked my pants in a surprising way. So let's get to business and get this review rolling, eh? Keep in mind that this isn't a review of the Witcher itself. You can find legions of those of the internet. No, this review is to see if the claims they make on the new box are true, to see if the Enhanced Edition is worth it, especially if a person already owns the original version (like I do), and to see how this new content adds up.
*Waves the Magic Harpsichord Wand of Time-Passing*
...well, I played the game in it's 'enhanced state'. Here's the pre-verdict, all sorta bullet-pointed for you freaks. Because I know you love bullet points. First things first; the inside flap of the box's claims, the ones I was giddy over:
- The "two new adventures" are not part of the core game. They're, like, entirely new mini-games included on the Witcher disk. I thought they were new adventures IN the game itself. I was all excited over nothing it seems. Kinda like the first time I had sex. Thankfully it turned out the girl was just a bad lay. You can tell her that. Last I heard she was stripping somewhere on Staten Island.
- The voice work is... better? Really? It's still pretty bad. We're still in the domain of Anakin Skywalker here, people. The lips still didn't sync up in some places.
Speaking of chatting it up, the new body animations are unusually silly. People move too animated now, like they're friggin' doing the Vogue sometimes. What the hell is up with Geralt moving like he's a priss now? I keep expecting him to finish off by tossing his hair side to side like some girly man. Ugh. Alright, some of the new body animations work, but usually, no. Just.... no. And why couldn't they fix the "door opening" animations. Watch Geralt open the door in the Kitchen of Kaer Morhen. Painful; just painful.
I shall break my awesome bullet pointing to point out that thus far the review seems pretty negative. But it gets better. Really, it does.
- There are more NPC skins, which is cool. Seriously, I think the original has, like, four skins for every single non-main character in the game. Watching townsfolk gather anywhere was like some nasty glitch in the Matrix. Now it looks like the thriving medieval world the original Witcher was supposed to have. Even the monsters come in different shades of whatever color their race is supposed to be.
- The streamlined inventory is nice. Your alchemical goods are in a separate area from your non-alchemical regents. And there's an auto-sort/stack button. So the new inventory, while not a huge upgrade, is a welcome one. More room to carry muffins and shit, despite the fact that the general area in the inventory has been slightly reduced.
- Here's the big one: The level loading times really are significantly faster. I used to be able to go get a drink and use the bathroom just from making the mistake of entering a peasant's hut (All that just to get a fucking muffin from a cabinet. Assholes.). Now the game loads like a game should load, which is pretty darned fast. I used to dread "scavenging". You know, walking into peoples' huts and stealing crap out of their kitchen cabinets right in front of them? That.
- Thus far the game seems to be much more stable, so the box didn't lie here either. Let me tell you this: the original Witcher, patched and everything, crashed on me enough times (or did freaky shit) that I almost quit playing, but the lure of medieval wench boobies was too strong. You *do* know about the massive amount of sex on this game, right? Right?!? I mean shit, sex is a collectible card game for frig's sake!
- I didn't notice anything with the weather. Which means it's probably awesome now, because if it was broken I'd probably start ranting here about how stupid the weather is in this game. So sure, we'll consider this one fixed.
- Friggin' dice poker A.I. pissed me off. I can't exploit it anymore. It... it played smarter. Dammit! No, seriously. This is fixed as well. But man, I used to looooooove exploiting the stupid A.I. for this game. I'd be rich(ish) in no time. No more stealing for muffins (seriously, almost every chest, dresser, crate and basket I looted recently had muffins in it.).
- Yup, the inventory and map loading times are dramatically increased. You no longer scream in frustration when you accidentally open one of them. Props to these mofos for fixing this aspect of the game. I really hated opening my inventory. It was stupid. Now it isn't stupid. It's awesome, like me.
- Something that really pissed me off? You need to be online if you want to use the D'Jinni level editor. Some of you (probably most, actually) have a computer that is online 24/7. But I know people that still use dial-up for fuck's sake. Then there's people like me that don't have a router, so my girlfriend and I (or boyfriend if you believe the rumors Steve spreads) literally battle back and forth for the connection. She wins all the time. Fear the power of the boobies, for they are awesome to behold (in a collectible card game sort of way... lolz Witcher). But since I am not always connected to the internet it really irks me that the D'Jinni editor is online, especially considering that it uses the Neverwinter Nights 2 engine, and that game's editor is offline. So what gives?
- Auto-looting is a really nice upgrade. You can CTRL+Left Click on containers to loot them without opening the inventory panel. Geralt now can loot with his MIND! Holy Jedi, Batman!
- And the big one: combat responsiveness is fixed? Where? Sure, I saw a slight increase but the game still has problems in this area and could use further "enhancing". I still has some problems here, most notably against that motherfucking Beast boss fight. Let me tell you something: never, in the history of my 23 years of video gaming, have I hated a boss fight so much. The Beast is a cheap prick and I hope he dies of ball cancer.
Now for things not on the box that I notice were also fixed or something like that:
- Your save games from the old Witcher still work. I went to load the game and found ALL of my old save files still there. This allowed me to play the game in various areas to better give you the most awesome review ever. Because I'm awesome. If you don't agree then you must be awesome-blind.
- Speaking of saving, you can turn off auto-save if you want to. You couldn't in the original. That's nothing huge, but it's worth noting the change.
- The tree shader has been improved, dammit! I'm a sucker for game shadows, so I noticed this one right away. The game looks a lot better with this enhancement.
- The music transitions smoother. I didn't notice it until I was about two hours into the game. Nice fix.
- The NPCs actually look at you. Another thing I didn't notice it at first, but they do. I could have listed this under the "improved facial expressions" bullet point, but those aren't that good, whereas this is. Like, the NPC's eye follow you when they aren't busy and stay focused on their task when they are. I thought that was pretty cool and since it was absent in the original it has been duly noted. Bullet point, baby!
- One thing I'm not sure if it is new or not is that the Innkeepers have storage like a bank. I don't remember being able to do that in the original, but then again my memory is shot most of the time.
Other stuff (sorry, no bullet points):
The game comes with a pretty sweet map of the world the game takes place in. For you tabletop RPG geeks (such as myself), now you have a map for the setting so you can run a Witcher roleplaying game using your favorite system. Score. Also included is a game walk-through booklet and a story written by the dude that does the comic, Andrzej Sapkowski (my spell check just freaked out), complete with pretty cool color artwork. I can't tell you if the story is any good since I haven't read it yet, but it's the guy that writes the comic for frig's sake, the creator of the entire franchise. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that at worst it's decent stuff.
I almost hit the floor when I saw that the game came with four disks considering that the game itself is a DVD disk. I was like, "Holy shit! How much new content is there!?! Silly Grim. It turns out that the game is still one disk, but it comes with a "behind the scenes" DVD that was pretty cool to watch, the game's soundtrack (Oooooooh, roleplaying music), and a disk of music that inspired the game. Okay, apparently the last one is the music the people that made the game listened to when they were programming or whatever. I already own the bands I liked on the list and the rest of it kinda sucked. But I'm a total music snob so ignore my little rant here about the music. You'll probably like most of it.
And now for something I wish they would have fixed but didn't: combat. Yes, combat. The meat of the game. You'd think that re-releasing the game with lots of fixes would have meant the programmers would have a chance to liven combat up a bit. But did they? Nope. it's is still click-swing-click-same swing-click-same swing again followed by click-swing-click-same swing-click- same swing yet again. It's boring. The only time you do a different swing is a finishing move (when the foe is stunned) or is you use one of the other two combat styles, and each of those are click-swing-click-same swing-click-same swing again followed by click-swing-click-same swing-click- same swing yet again. Meh. All it is is three-swing combos of the same swing over and over again.
The verdict? Well, if you already own the Witcher this might not be worth your money all over again. Even with the loading times being better and the slightly improved combat, you already dropped $40-$60 bucks on this game once, so doing so again is... well, you know. Unless these things they've fixed really, really bothered you to the point that you couldn't play the original and/or the music disks, maps, and other extras really appeal to you. Or find some sucker on one of the internet classified sites to buy the old one for $20 so that purchasing the same content (albeit improved) all over again doesn't hurt as much. Certain aspects of the game are most certainly cleaned up, but it's still the same Witcher you nabbed before... oh wait, you do get the two new adventures that are separate games. Uh. Yay? I dunno. I wasn't impressed by them.
- What? What's that you say? More bulletpoints, Grim? Oh shit yea!
- If you already have the original and thought it was good as it is then you don't really need the new one.
- If you already own the original but the unresponsive combat, load times, etc. drove you mental(er), then you should probably get this.
- If you like extra stuff, like music CDs, maps and story books, then you should get this.
- If you want the editor and/or the new adventures (I think I'm biased against the adventures because I thought they were in the game), you should definitely get this. Make me some good adventures to play.
- If you never played the Witcher, get this game. Honestly. The storyline is pretty sweet, the world is believable as far as video games go, and it is a lot of fun. Just make sure some dude isn't suckering you into buying his old one off some internet classified site. Nah mean?
Final Verdict (Finally... oooh, pun! I think...): you probably want this game, since I don't know anyone who owns the Witcher that was content with it. Most of the shit they fixed in the Enhanced Edition are things these very people bitched about, so chances are they'll rebuy the game to play headache free. Sure some things aren't fixed in my humble yet awesome opinion, and other things irked me (like the editor), but overall the game is a much better, saner, and pleasant experience.